Japan: Social Art and Design for Earthquake Relief

This post is part of our special coverage Japan Earthquake 2011.

Three design-related projects have emerged out of the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeast coast of Japan last Friday 11 March, 2011.

#prayforjapan logo

The creators of the #prayforjapan initiative that encourages well-wishers across the world to send messages of support via microblogging site Twitter and make online donations, have made a number of logos available in multiple sizes for print, animated banners, and social media icons.

Pray for Japan donation box logo

Pray for Japan donation box logo

This project is being led by blogger and advertising expert Naoyuki Sato, better known as Satonao. He explains [jp] how the project began after he received a tweet by Mikihiko Sawahata (@hossib), the owner of a Japanese restaurant Bissoh in Beaune, France:

さとなおさん、店で義援金を募集したいのですが募金箱のデザインをして下さる方はいらっしゃいませんか? PDFファイルにして上げていただければ全世界でDLして印刷し、色々な場所におけます。

Satonao, I’d like to raise money at my restaurant and I was wondering if you knew of anyone who would be able to design a donation box for me. If it can be uploaded on the Internet as a PDF file, it can be downloaded, printed and used across the world.


I immediately contacted my friend Junya Ishikawa (@junyaishikawa) over Twitter. We decided that we should “act immediately”, and we approached the extremely busy designer Chie Morimoto (@morimotochie) who readily agreed to the request. After only a day, the logo was completed. I think it’s a deep-felt and heart-warming symbol. The help of Yuko Matsunaga (@ebiita) and Takeshi Oshii (@gatyaping2) was also important in making this happen.

The project is also calling on people to provide localized versions at @prayjp.


"Turn off the light. Let's go to sleep early". Image by @laughsketch.

"Turn off the light. Let's go to sleep early". Image by @laughsketch.

#setsudencopy is the hashtag being used for a crowd-sourced project to create graphic posters with the message to conserve electricity. The upbeat site explains its mission in this way:



「俺もポスターつくった!」って人は、下の [節電ポスターを投稿する] ボタンをクリック!インターネット歴1年未満の子は、メールで送ってね!

Heart-warming taglines appealing for energy saving are coming into the world on Twitter with the hash-tag #setsudencopy. It was inspired by the concern people have shown for each other. It’s a shame to keep this just to Twitter!

That’s why we’re asking for energy saving POSTERS! Print them, and cover the walls of your city (well, don’t forget to ask for permission ok?) You don’t have a printer? No problem. Did you know Seven-Eleven has printers? You just have to enter the “net print” number at the bottom of each poster into the photocopier at the store!

If you’ve made a poster, then click on “post this energy saving poster”! If you’re new to the Internet, just send it to us by email!

Graphics are being submitted to the project's Tumblr blog, with the first one posted on March 12, 2011.

"Save Power and Carry On". Image by @HN_feedbot.

"Save Power and Carry On". Image by @HN_feedbot.

"Let's unplug". Image by @daitocreative.

"Let's unplug". Image by @daitocreative.

The images are available to the public:


All the posters in this website are provided in the public domain thanks to the understanding of our designers. In other words, you can print, edit and reproduce those posters without any limits and without having to ask for anyone’s permission. We sincerely hope these posters will lead many people to act fast.


Art contribution by Takehiko Inoue.

Art contribution by Takehiko Inoue.

GEISAI is a gigantic art/design event founded by contemporary artist Takashi Murakami in 2001. The 15th installment was to be held on March 13, 2011, at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center.

In a statement announcing the cancellation, Murakami made a suggestion:

With the theme of providing encouragement to the victims and those who have despaired in the quake's aftermath, will you join me in uploading artwork to Twitter's affiliated image posting sites?

As an art festival, GEISAI should be on the front lines of this movement and it is with that in mind that we have selected the theme below and ask everyone to begin submitting their images!

The hashtag will be #newday_GEISAI

Tomorrow will always arrive.

The sun will always rise again.

A new day,

This is our theme.

This post is part of our special coverage Japan Earthquake 2011.

Thanks to Naoki Matsuyama for helping with the translation.


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